Azerbaijan advertising

The Southbank was playing a fabulous jazz set last night, led by the impressive pianist Shahin Novrasli, who has an official website here but I prefer this one. He reminded me of Keith Jarrett, but Novrasli I think is quite some better. Or perhaps more interesting. Later in the evening, Novrasli was joined by two spectacular fellow Azeris playing Azeri string instruments, but I can’t for the life of me find out who these two men were. The audience fell for them above all the others, including Novrasli. But I liked Novrasli. Anyway, what I hated about the evening were members of the audience talking and chatting as if they were in a pub with the jukebox on and taking pictures with their phones and discussing their emails with their friends. What I loved about the evening, however, was the Azeri advertising that was being handed out as we left QEH. On glossy A5, white font against black background with some flames at the bottom, was printed:





Never was a truer word spoken. Bravo to the Azeris for saying it as it is. I laughed and laughed and laughed. Indeed, as the musicians had walked onto the stage at the beginning of the night, huge words appeared on the screen behind the set:




I am now waiting for the Angolans to host their own jazz festival at the Southbank. They’d do this so well. So very well.

turks & caicos & tories & cash

My interest in Turks & Caicos is growing, especially since reading this report in The Independent. I especially focused on the last two paragraphs:

‘Lord Ashcroft has made five speeches in the Lords in nine years. In his first, he urged that Britain must retain a military presence in the Caribbean to protect its former colonies, including Turks and Caicos Islands, where he declared he had business interests. He last spoke in December 2008, in a foreign affairs debate. Before that, he had not made a speech since November 2006, when he criticised the legislation which bans political parties from receiving donations from abroad.

‘Lord Ashcroft had a condition attached to the award of his peerage, in which he was told that he had to make the UK his permanent home for tax purposes by the end of 2000. Michael Oakeshott, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman in the Lords, is planning to introduce legislation in January that would force every peer to choose between paying UK taxes or giving up their seats in the House of Lords.’

And to that last line, one might add… and choose between being a British citizen and paying taxes or being kicked off this grey island once and for all. If you don’t pay taxes, you shouldn’t be here at all.


Angola blog

At last Rafael has begun his blog. About bloody time too! Maka Angola is in English and Portuguese so many people can read it without any problems. And should. Rafael is an excellent reporter and investigator, who gets information that most of the rest of us can only fantasise about. After he’s dug up corruption among the Angola elite, I hope he’ll start digging over here, in our City, for example, finally putting paid to the notion that worthy Westerners must put Africa straight. The real revolution is coming… and remember, you heard if here first.

I should have said that Raf’s blog ironically coincides with an intriguing event: the Angolan president, José Eduardo dos Santos (ZeDu), declaring zero tolerance on corruption. What? I hear you Angolans shout! Yes, Zedu says no more corruption will be tolerated. There have been some marvelous and funny comments about this on certain facebook pages.

Texts’ Bones

‘When I was young I thought that words meant something; now it seems that meaning is the last things words are required to do; semantics getting in the way of honest, playful textual decoration – and here is me without overalls or wallpaper table to hand.’

Twelve short stories inside The Facebook of Dr Caligari has just been published by SKREV PRESS thanks to the sweat, blood and caffeine intake of editor and also poet, Daithidh MacEochaidh. If you want to buy the book, drop Daithidh an email, details on the SKREV site. One of those short stories is mine, and first came to life via Barbara Campbell’s 1001 nights arts project. Thanks to Dai Vaughan whose interview at Ready Steady Book led me to Daithidh’s work and on to SKREV. I’ve recently read Vaughan’s Germs, which I loved, and was recently given his latest novel, The Treason of Sparrows, which has a splendid first line: I’m an old man and I want to scream. Shame I missed the launch here.

Israel & Angola

I’ve only just found this, having entered into conversations with the author, an interesting journalist by the name of Yotam Feldman who works for Haaretz. It’s a nice piece, and I hope he writes more. I hope, in particular, that an Israeli journalist might find out for us whether it really was the Israelis who killed Jonas Malheiro Savimbi. How I wish I’d met him. How I wish. I remember feeling sick with regret the day I heard he died. I was in Lisbon, interviewing Unita members, when the news came through that he had been killed. We turned on the television and watched the images of this extraordinary rebel leader, his heavy bullet-holed corpse being dragged and dropped infront of the cameras in eastern Angola. I felt sick for all the Angolans who’d been killed in the war for it to end with such a pathetic sight. A vacuum suddenly sucked through decades of lives and history and memories. Just for this. Shot dead to nothing. It was a tragic and awful day. Not tragic for Savimbi’s loss of life but for so much loss of life that ended in one miserable body being pushed about the floor for the cameras. Oh my god, I felt sick. And I saw grown men in Lisbon weeping and collapsing to the floor, unable to contain the years of waiting for the war to end, for a better Angola, only for it to end like this.




‘Nah, I live in Chingford now.’

‘Oh right. I’m not far from you then. Walthamstow.’

‘My mum was born in Walthamstow, and drives the buses there now. Teenagers are awful.’

‘Which buses?’

‘Well, mainly coaches now.’

‘And my dad’s on the underground.’

‘Do you like Walthamstow?’

‘Nah. I hate it.’

‘What? Even the market?’

‘Especially the market. Bunch of pervs eyeing you up all the time. Forget it.’

‘What like?’

‘Saying pervy things.’

‘They don’t say pervy things to me. But that’s the great advantage of getting older: men stop seeing you as a body.’


Others might be leaving, but we’re here to stay.